Ruben Cantu

Ruben Cantu

The topic of immigration detention centers has been grabbing headlines from around the country, and not for a good reason. Like most of the times, the more shocking, the more extraordinary, the most disgusting the story is, the more attention we pay.

It’s just human nature, we tend to focus our attention into negative stories. It might be a lingering self-preservation instinct, helping us stay away from things that may harm us.

But back to the topic, the stories coming out of those detention centers have been ranging from people being forced to drink water from a toilet to those same stories being called out as absolutely and completely false.

We, as members of the media and the average citizen do not have access to those detention centers, so we cannot independently confirm nor deny any kind of allegations of wrongdoing.

On Friday, U.S. legislators and Vice President Mike Pence will be visiting one of those centers in Texas. Senator Lindsey Graham, Chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, extended an invite to a bipartisan delegation.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who has visited the border region several times amid the immigration crisis, will be among those visiting the McAllen detention center in the Texas Valley.

Our community in Del Rio may feel overwhelmed by the news of large groups of asylum-seekers crossing the border illegally, but in the Texas Valley the situation is even more complicated. When we average hundreds of detentions on any given day, their numbers reach thousands of apprehensions on a daily basis.

Yesterday, during a conference call, Cornyn said that our country should find a long-term solution when it comes down to asylum-seekers and that “it is the responsibility of Congress to fix this immigration problem.”

The legislator said congress should focus on attacking the root of the problem and not only the symptoms.

Cornyn’s Humane Act, a bill introduced in May along with Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-28th Dist. of Texas) addresses some of the key points needed to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis on the southern border.

The bill addresses family separations and much-needed updates at the U.S. ports of entry to increase the capacity for Customs and Border Protection to process migrants seeking asylum while also facilitating legitimate trade and travel.

It requires the Department of Homeland Security to keep families together during court proceedings and provide additional standards of care for families being held.

Improves due process for unaccompanied children and family units by prioritizing their claims for relief in immigration courts. It also provides safeguards to prevent unaccompanied children from being placed in the custody of dangerous individuals.

The Humane Act requires DHS to continually update their regulations to prevent and combat sexual abuse and assault in their facilities. It fixes a loophole in current law to allow unaccompanied children from non-contiguous countries to be voluntarily reunited with their families in their home country.

The processing of asylum-seekers and resources at ports of entry are also addressed by this legislation, mandating the hiring of additional DHS personnel, improving processing of humanitarian relief claims.

All these and many more much-needed updates to the immigration and asylum systems are on someone’s desk, but they need to receive bipartisan support in order to make a real change in our country and in our community.

Hopefully the visit of these Washington legislators to the Texas Valley will help to shed some light onto the needs and the reality we are living at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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